Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why I Hate RENT

I don't hate a lot of things. No, really. I don't hate Justin Bieber, even with many a claim that he is somehow singlehandedly destroying pop music. I don't hate the Star Wars prequels even though they apparently suck. Heck, I don't even hate Twilight, for as much as I rag on it; it's dumb and has some awful morals, but I certainly don't hate it. That said, I have a deep, burning hatred for the musical RENT. 

RENT is a rock opera -- based Puccini's opera, La Boheme -- that came out on Broadway in the mid 90's. The best I can explain it in only a few words is that it is about a group of vile, obnoxious proto-hipsters who spend outstanding amounts of time and energy trying to shock and defy 'the man'. The man in question being anyone who wants them to make a concerted effort to pay their rent and contribute to society. But no, they are 'Bohemians' and they need not bow to the whims of society, oh no. They are much too busy being troubled artists and getting into petty arguments at their best friend's funerals to comply with such outrageous standards. To get a better idea, here's a song of them telling us exactly that. I dearly wish I had the video to go along with it, but I couldn't find it, but I promise you it's a whole lot more eye-rolling when you can see it. If you're offended by swears, crude references, or annoying, entitled twenty-somethings, be warned. It's mostly the latter:

So that is RENT in a nutshell. And I hate it. You have to listen to the words because I'll admit the song is super catchy and I actually like it, but when I stop to listen to the words I immediately get back to rolling my eyes. It must be known that this attitude is kept up by most of the characters throughout the course of the show, and they are rewarded for it. Meanwhile, the only two characters I don't hate because they're not awful people, get to suffer. I call shenanigans. 

If you've ever had a conversation with me about something that is wrong with society and today's youth culture, you will almost always hear me utter the phrase "And that's why I hate RENT" because that's what RENT is for me. A representation of everyone who has ever made me groan with exasperation at how smart and edgy they think they are. 

My cousin and I were discussing yesterday the clock we bought at the thrift store. It has cats on it. Upon purchase, we found that it required three batteries. One to power the clock, and two to work the intensely annoying meowing sound that goes off once an hour. Of this, my cousin said "Well, I guess it takes more energy to be annoying than to be useful." I thought that was very fitting to this situation. There is so very much energy put forth by the cast of RENT into being so very very annoying "edgy", with the intent of making a bunch of old white people gasp in shock and clutch their pearls. That's all. That is what 'defying the mainstream' is, as far as I can gather. What they are actually accomplishing -- according to my parents who are part of the demographic that RENT is trying to horrify -- is something akin to the auditioners on American Idol who think they are really good at singing. If you've ever watched the show, you know how convinced these people are that their voices are going to impress everyone and have this big impact, when really we're all just incredibly embarrassed for them and hope they will stop and go home soon so we can just continue with our lives as normal.

Now I don't hate 'Bohemians'. I may see them as obsolete, considering there is no need for a Bohemian revolution in a world where unconventionally expressing yourself and following your dreams of being an artist, writer, musician, etc. is no longer scandalous or unorthodox. You are free to do your thing and congratulate yourself on your uniqueness as much as you want. It is when you start whining about how society should owe you something for your abject refusal to contribute to it that I immediately stop caring about what you have to say. And that is how I got to complain about RENT during the entirety of the Occupy Wall Street movement. There are better ways to combat inequality. Actually doing work instead of protesting, for instance. And I am not bashing on people who can't get jobs. I am bashing on people who wont. Like most of the cast of RENT.

Everybody wants to be unique. We were all fourteen once, and understand what it is to want to make people pay attention to us. However, most people stop begging for attention by telling everybody how edgy and anti-establishment they are after they stop being fourteen. For an example, I am going to pick on the "Scene" trend plaguing our high schools cause it's a thing I'm actually aware of and because there is at least one youth who is very dear to my heart who I would like to save from a lot of future embarrassment. A "Scene" kid is somebody who looks like this:

They spend their days pleading for attention on Facebook and Twitter, acting like they are smarter than everyone, taking pictures of themselves, and pretending to be shocking and quirky. Nobody outside of the Scene circle has ever thought they were cool, and most of them grow out of it before they can humiliate themselves in college. The rough adult equivalent of that trend is this:

A greatly toned down look but one that still screams "I never grew up, please pay attention to me." But while attention seeking teenagers can get away with not having jobs or paying rent and spending all day listening to music or snapping pictures of their hands forming hearts because they still live with their parents, adults who don't live at home do not get this luxury because they are adults. 

Look. I get it. I am a writer and sometimes I even pretend to be an artist too. My entire blog is basically an elaborate front for people to notice me and think I'm cool. I would love nothing more than to just get to sit around all day and write and not have to worry about paying bills or anything just because it's what I love to do, but I can't because real life does not work that way. Until I can find a way to reliably make a living from blogging, I have to have a job. Now, I am one of the lucky ones who has a job that I like, but I've worked ones I hated too. I've had to wake up at 3 AM to work every day and I've worked two jobs at once to save up tuition and I really don't need to hear about how much you suffer because you don't feel like picking up a shift at McDonalds cause it interferes with your free spirits, cast of RENT. If you don't pay your rent, your landlord has to and they've got bills of their own to pay. Get a job. You freaking hippies. 

I could rant about this forever but in interest of anybody actually caring, I'm doing my best to keep it somewhat short. To wrap up, I will make a list of things that, however abstractly, make me complain about how much I hate RENT. Please note that this is still a work in progress. After all, I still have yet to find out the names of those young hooligans who wont stay off my lawn, and don't even get me started on that Lady Gaga character... But here it is: 

Occupy anything
The Kia Soul
Anybody who un-ironically refers to the business world as 'the establishment'. 

And don't get all up on me because "RENT is about AIDS and how it affects the lives of so many and...." No. RENT is about annoying people, some of whom happen to have AIDS. Tell a story about people with AIDS who aren't insufferable and then we'll talk.